Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Montana, US, to remove requirements for travelers to self-quarantine, lift additional business restrictions, starting June 1.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Billings, Montana
  • Butte, Montana
  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Great Falls, Montana
  • Helena, Montana
  • Kalispell, Montana
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Sidney, Montana
  • Baker, Montana
  • Havre, Montana
  • Glendive, Montana
  • Glasgow, Montana
  • Whitefish, Montana

This alert began 21 May 2020 13:09 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Montana (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Montana Governor Steve Bullock has announced additional businesses will be allowed to reopen starting June 1, as part of Phase 2 of the state's economic recovery plan, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities continue to urge residents to maintain a proper distance from others when in public, and for those 65 years and older and those with underlying health conditions to stay at home as much as possible. Nonessential travel should be avoided, and the use of face coverings is strongly recommended whenever residents leave their homes. From June 1, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed, and travelers entering Montana from other US states, will not be required to self-quarantine upon arrival.

Additional business and services will be allowed, and other restrictions will be eased:

  • Music venues, bowling alleys, and other small entertainment venues can reopen with reduced capacity and avoiding any gathering of more than 50 people.
  • Restaurants, bars, casinos, movie theaters, gyms, and pools may continue operating and increase their allowed capacity to 75 percent.
  • Organized youth activities can occur, provided they avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.


Authorities in Montana had previously allowed other businesses and services to reopen:

  • On April 26: Places of worship.
  • On April 27: Retail and personal care businesses, including clothing and sporting goods stores, barbershops, hair salons, and massage therapy businesses. All workers must wear face coverings, and workers and customers must be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms.
  • On May 4: Dine-in services at restaurants, bars, and distilleries; casinos.
  • On May 7: Public schools may resume in-person lessons, following instructions from each local school board.
  • On May 15: Gyms and fitness centers; movie theaters and museums.


All businesses must enhance sanitation procedures, ensure the proper distance between customers and between workers, screen workers' health, send home those with symptoms, and recommend that workers and employees wear masks whenever possible.

Transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the order at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose or further extend restrictions should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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